No. 5 Tennessee Takes Opening Game of Super Regionals, 3-2 Over Georgia
|Tennessee 3, Georgia 2
|LSU 6, Missouri 1
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – On a blisteringly hot Saturday afternoon in front of 1,822 Orange-clad fans at the sold out Lee Softball Stadium, the #5 Tennessee Lady Vol softball team (51-11) climbed ever closer to a berth in the annual Women’s College World Series by taking the opener of the NCAA Knoxville Super Regional from #11 Georgia (44-16), 3-2.
Senior designated player Shelby Burchell continued her hot hitting at the plate, going 2-for-2 with a walk and a key two-RBI single during the bottom of the third. The Columbia, Tenn., native is hitting an impressive .556 (10-for-18) with five doubles and six RBIs over UT’s six NCAA Tournament games.
Junior third baseman Raven Chavanne was 1-for-2 with a RBI, improving her streak of reaching base safely to 41 consecutive games and her hitting streak to 14 straight contests. Junior second baseman Lauren Gibson (1-for-2), sophomore shortstop Madison Shipman (1-for-3, run) and junior first baseman Melissa Brown (1-for-3) each registered one of Tennessee’s six total hits off Georgia starter Erin Arevalo.
In the circle junior Ivy Renfroe (24-8) continued her roll, picking up the 19th win over her last 21 decisions dating back to March 21. The Jackson, Tenn., product allowed two runs on six hits, walked one and struck out seven in tossing her 10th complete game of the season.
“Crazy game,” Lady Vol Co-Head Coach Ralph Weekly said. “That’s what you expect from Super Regionals. I’m proud of our girls, and proud of how they fought. I’m especially proud of Ivy (Renfroe) and how she toughed it out. The Bulldogs gave us everything they had. Erin Arevalo is a very good pitcher, and she is a challenge, just like Ivy Renfroe is a very good pitcher. It’s amazing that our two teams have to compete with so much at stake. Georgia has so many great players, and everyone is fighting. I expect the same tomorrow.”
Tennessee’s Renfroe wasted no time exerting her influence from the circle in the top of the first, getting first baseman Tess Sito via a routine groundout to second before posting consecutive strikeouts of second baseman Ashley Pauly and shortstop Paige Wilson.
Arevalo held up her end of the early pitcher’s duel in the bottom half of the first, getting a pair of Lady Vol K’s and a pop-up for a one-two-three inning.
With UT’s hurler rolling from the circle, Burchell became the first base runner of the contest for either team, drawing a walk to christen the bottom of the second. Following a perfect sacrifice bunt off the bat of Gibson, sophomore left fielder Melissa Davin battled Arevalo over eight pitches in drawing the second free pass of the inning for the Lady Vols. Unfortunately, a foul out down the left field line and a routine grounder to short left the Tennessee duo stranded on the base paths.
The Big Orange’s nation-leading defense made itself visible starting the top of the third as a terrific defensive play by Andrews kept Georgia’s lead-off from reaching. UGA left fielder Niaja Griffin dropped a bunt up the first base line, forcing UT’s senior catcher to race out from behind the plate. She scooped the ball on the run and made an underhanded toss to junior Melissa Brown at first, nailing the runner by a step.
Lewis managed to get a vital Orange & White scoring outburst underway in the bottom of the third by starting the frame with a free pass. With the speedster located on second following a sac bunt, Shipman picked up the contest’s initial hit on a swinging bunt back to the circle. The Valencia, Calif., native swiped her 20th base of the season, reaching scoring position with two down. The set the stage for a clutch bloop single by Burchell, that dropped just on the grass, plating a pair of Lady Vols for a 2-0 advantage.
The Bulldogs attempted to answer right back in the top of the fourth, loading the bases with one out via singles from Sito and shortstop Paige Wilson and a hit by pitch for catcher Kristyn Sandberg. Renfroe rose to the challenge in a major way, however, posting consecutive strikeouts of designated player Ashley Razey and right fielder Christine Olney as UGA left the bases packed.
A lead-off single by Brown was eventually cashed in for what proved to be a vital insurance tally by the Lady Vols. With two down in the bottom of the fourth, Chavanne ripped a single into the outfield, plating freshman pinch runner Hannah Trainer from second for a 3-0 lead.
Georgia loaded the bases once again in the top of the fifth against Renfroe via a double by Griffin, a walk from third baseman Gracie Goulder and a one-out hit-by-pitch for Sito. UT’s 6-0 right-hander again escaped the jam, registering her sixth strikeout of the contest and then inducing a routine bouncer to first from Wilson to raise UGA’s left stranded count to a half dozen.
A single to begin the top of the sixth by Sandberg and a double that just eluded a leaping Whitney Hammond at the wall in left from Razey granted the ‘Dawgs another huge scoring threat. This time the Red & Black would cash in as a RBI single by Olney and a RBI groundout by Griffin quickly cut the Big Orange lead to just 3-2. Goulder stepped into the batter’s box with one retired and hit a slow roller to second. Gibson charged the ball, corralled it and threw quickly to Andrews at the plate who applied the tag on Olney to maintain Tennessee’s tenuous advantage. Attempting to get the potential tying run in scoring position, Goulder was cut down via a caught stealing as Andrews fired a strike to Shipman covering the second base bag to end the outburst.
UGA had one final offensive chance in the top of the seventh but Renfroe wouldn’t be denied, striking out Brittney Hubbard and getting both Sito and Pauly to groundout to end the game.
LSU Takes Game 1 of Super Regional, 6-1
COLUMBIA, Mo. -- Allison Falcon delivered a 2-for-3 performance and matched a career-high three RBIs as the LSU softball team knocked off No. 9 national seed Missouri by a 6-1 margin Saturday during the opening game of the NCAA Columbia Super Regional in-front of 2,253 fans at University Field.
LSU (38-22) won its fourth consecutive NCAA Tournament game and moved within one victory of making the program’s third appearance at the Women’s College World Series. It also marked LSU’s first NCAA Super Regional victory since the 2006 season.
LSU’s offense racked up six runs and nine hits, the most runs for the Tigers since a 6-1 victory over Nicholls State back on April 4.
A.J. Andrews also matched a career-high with two hits from the leadoff spot, while Morgan Russell matched a season-high with two RBIs.
Rachele Fico went the distance for LSU in the circle and improved to 19-11 on the season. The junior right-hander sprayed eight hits and surrendered only one run to the high-octane Missouri offense. She recorded five strikeouts versus two walks to garner her third postseason win for the season.
The two teams will meet Sunday at 2:30 p.m. for game two in the best-of-three series. If a deciding game three is necessary, it will be played 30 minutes following game two. Games will be televised by ESPNU and ESPN3.com with Cara Capuano and Garland Cooper serving as the broadcast team.
“I feel like our team was very prepared tonight,” head coach Beth Torina said. “We worked really hard this week, a lot of things with our offense. I feel really good about the preparation we did, and I feel really good about the offense. It showed up today. I liked how aggressive our team was. I like our defensive performance and our performance on the mound. I was really happy with how we played today.”
LSU grabbed a 2-0 advantage during the third inning. Dylan Supak coaxed a leadoff walk, and pinch runner Jacee Blades advanced to second base on Andrews single up-the-middle. Two batters later, Ashley Langoni drew another free pass to fill the bases. Falcon ripped a timely two-run, two-out single to put LSU on the scoreboard.
Missouri (46-13) cut the LSU advantage down to 2-1 in the fourth inning. Nicole Hudson smacked a leadoff double into the left centerfield gap. She crossed the plate on Kayla Kingsley two-out, RBI infield single in-front of Fico in the pitcher’s circle.
LSU responded with three runs during the fifth inning to bust the contest open. Simone Heyward along with Langoni and Juliana Santos set the table with a walk and two singles, respectively, to load the bases.
Falcon and Russell were hit-by-pitch sandwiched between an Ashley Applegate walk to push the LSU advantage to 5-1 and chase Missouri’s All-American hurler Chelsea Thomas from the game.
Thomas dropped to 26-8 for the season and was touched up for five runs on five hits. She issued a season’s best six walks to go along with seven Ks.
“Thomas is a talented pitcher,” Falcon said. “I think what really helped us was we stayed within our plan, really executed well and kind of threw her off a little bit.”
Missouri put the first two batters on-base in the sixth inning, but LSU escaped the jam as third baseman Tammy Wray turned a 5-3 double play to keep the score at 5-1.
LSU added an insurance run during the seventh inning. Pinch hitter Cassie Trosclair cranked a leadoff triple and scored on Russell’s RBI double off the left field wall to make it 6-1.
Fico worked around a bases loaded situation in the seventh inning and received a fielder’s choice play from her middle infield to secure the 6-1 victory.
“We kept a good mix of things,” Fico said. “I still expect more from myself. I would have liked to be a little bit sharper, but the great thing about this sport is I have a team behind me. They played great defense, and they got it done for me .”
Every LSU postseason game will have live audio and live stats available inside the Geaux Zone on LSUsports.net. The games also will be carried live on Country Legends 104.9 FM in the Baton Rouge area with Patrick Wright and Matt Dunaway set to call the action.